The University of Memphis National Trial Team advanced to the semifinal round of the
38th Annual National Trial Competition, held in San Antonio, Texas, over the weekend
of April 4 to 7, 2013. The Team, comprised of advocates Brigid Welsh (’13), Drew
Davis (’13), and Sam Hinson (’14), defeated number one seed Cumberland School of Law
in the national quarterfinals. In the national semifinals, the team fell to eventual
national champion Georgetown University Law Center in a close, split decision.
Coached by Professor Danny Schaffzin and Professor Michelle Slack, the Trial Team
earned Memphis Law’s best finish in the National Trial Competition since 1998. This
year, 320 teams from ABA accredited law schools across the country competed in regional
tournaments in February. After defeating Vanderbilt Law School to win the Region
11 Championship at the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville, Memphis advanced with
27 other teams to the national championship rounds in Texas.
“From an initial Regional Rounds pool of more than 300 teams, Brigid, Drew, and Sam
finished as one of the four best teams in the largest and most prestigious law school
trial competition in the country”, said Professor Schaffzin. “More importantly, they
represented the University of Memphis and each other with the utmost professionalism
and excellence. Professor Slack and I are so, so proud of all that the Team has accomplished.”
Professor Slack added, “Any one of them could walk into a courtroom today and go up
against an experienced trial lawyer,” adding that, “the team is helping put Memphis
on the map for trial lawyers across the country.”
The National Trial Team began preparing for the NTC Regionals in September 2012 and
logged more than 200 hours in practices leading up to the regional tournament. In
addition to the accomplishments of Ms. Welsh, Mr. Davis, and Mr. Hinson, a second
team of Zach Jones (‘13), Kaycee Arnold (‘13), and Andrew Horvath (‘14) earned a ninth
place finish in the region, winning two out of three preliminary round trials and
just missing qualification for the regional quarterfinals. Team alternates Abigail
Hall (‘14) and Brandon White (‘14) assisted the Team in every aspect of its preparations.
“Being a member of this team has been more wonderful and enriching than I could have
ever imagined,” said Brigid Welsh, a two-year member of the National Trial Team. “It's
not every day that you get to enjoy great success with great people by your side.
The support from the school and community has been humbling."
“Competing in the National Finals will go down as one of the best experiences of my
law school career,” said Drew Davis, a third-year law student who joined the Trial
Team this year. “I think a lot of our success in advancing to Nationals and making
it to the semifinals is the result of how well we get along as a team. Throughout
the whole year, in practicing and competing, I have enjoyed being around my teammates
and coaches. Being on the trial team has made me feel more confident about communicating
my ideas to other people and has given me an understanding of the mechanics of how
a trial works.”
“Being a member of this team has been one of the top experiences of my life,” added
Sam Hinson, the lone second-year law student on the National-qualifying team. “The
success of this team is a direct result of the great coaching and guidance of Professor
Slack and Professor Schaffzin and the unmatched dedication of all the team members.”
The National Trial Competition was established in 1975 to encourage and strengthen
students' advocacy skills through quality competition and valuable interaction with
members of the bench and bar. The program is designed to expose law students to the
nature of trial practice and to serve as a supplement to their education. It is the
Texas Young Lawyers Association intent to provide a meaningful contribution to the
development of future trial lawyers.